Vienna, 11 July 2020
Last year, at about this time, my wife and I undertook our first hike in the Dolomites. Readers can see the commented photos of that hike in an earlier post. At the time, we promised ourselves to come back this year, to explore another part of the Dolomites. We were true to our promise, even though Covid-19 threatened to upset our plans, particularly since we were joined by one of my French cousins and his wife: would the borders be open on time? would they have to quarantine in Italy? or in France on their way back? But all was well; restrictions on travel were lifted in time. And it was great that they could come, because I have shamelessly used a good number of the photos they took.
This year, we explored the Dolomites around the Val Pusteria as well as the Ampezzine Dolomites close to Cortina d’Ampezzo. I have a fondness of bird’s-eye view maps like the one below, but they do allow me to mark the route we took.
We started in San Candido at the bottom of the map (which is Innichen to the local, mostly German-speaking population; we are in the South Tyrol here). We hiked over the group of mountains south of the town, where the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Three Peaks, were the star of the show, and down into Cortina d’Ampezzo at the top right of the map. Then we hiked around another group of mountains to the west of Cortina; I’ll show a map of that in a minute. But let’s have the photos tell the rest of the tale!
On the evening we arrive, the setting sun brightens the tops of the mountains behind San Candido / Innichen
First stage, hiking up the Val Campo di Dentro up to the Drei Schuster Hütte / Rifugio Tre Scarperi: gradual climb of about 450 m. Here we are, arriving at the hut in time for lunch.
The mountain blocking the end of the valley. After lunch we climbed up to the top of the saddle to the left of that mountain: a brutally steep climb of 840 m!
We have started climbing. The valley floor is dropping away below us
Clambering over an impossibly lovely stream, hoping not to fall in …
And we climb …
The valley is far below now …
… but still we climb … we begin to hit snow patches …
Last sighting of the valley far, far below
… and still we climb …
Finally, the top!
Our first sighting of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo. We will be walking to the saddle to the left of them, to reach the mountain hut we will be sleeping in.
Our first clear view of of these three majestic peaks
Getting closer to them, while the weather is turning …
… also looking back at the route we’ve taken.
Nearly at the top of the saddle …
Looking over the other side of the saddle, down onto the Rifugio Lavaredo where we will be staying the night. Nearly the end of a long day.
Beautiful day. We go back to the top of the saddle.
That’s the path we’ll be taking today, snaking away to the far left.
The Three Peaks keep us company on our left as we walk
We pass a lovely spray of pink flowers
A last look at the Three Peaks …
… and at the panorama behind us, with the path we’ve just taken winding across it
Lake Misurina, glinting in the sunlight, beckons to us from far below in the valley. It is time to start climbing down.
We drop about 600 m before finally arriving at the lake.
We take the chairlift to the Rifugio Col de Varda, the mountain hut where we will be staying the night.
Today is taken up with a walk to the Rifugio di Città di Carpi and back via Lake Misurina. It’s a walk primarily through forest but with some fine views across the valley …
… as well as sightings of some beautiful flowers – this is a particularly lovely example of the globe flower
We arrive at the Rifugio di Città di Carpi in time for coffee – to be purchased with masks on the face; Covid-19 haunts us even here.
After coffee, a final look at the view …
… before we plunge once more into the forest, walking down to Misurina.
Today the weather forecast is for rain, so we kit ourselves up. We are walking mostly through forest, up to the Passo Tre Croci and then down to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
A tank trap near the pass, built by Mussolini to keep out the Germans – the most obvious sign we came across of this area being a border region, with all the tensions that come with that. During our walks around the Tre Cime we were crossing now vanished World War I trenches and spied dugouts carved into the rocks.
Some lovely forest land around the Agritur El Brite de Larieto (closed, alas, when we passed by; I had rather been hoping to have lunch there), which mixed woods and pastures – a delightful combination, especially when we saw the cows wandering between the trees; and what a heavenly smell they gave off! Of fresh milk.
By the time we reached the Rifugio Mietres (also closed), the weather was turning decidedly to the stormy, with thunder rumbling away in the mountains above us.
Our first view of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the valley below, our objective for today
Going down a ski track. In the middle distance a flock of sheep
A closer look at the sheep. They must be on their way to the high alpine meadows for the summer
The main street in Cortina d’Ampezzo, where we had a late lunch before driving up to the hotel at the Passo Falzarego
I said I would show another map of the trail we did on this last day of our hike, so here it is.
We start at Lagazuói, taking the cable car from the Pass up to it.
View of the Pass far below from the top of the cable car
View of the other side, where we would be walking down and then going off to the right
We’ve walked down, over extensive beds of snow, to this first pass
Further on, a plunging view down to our left
Striding across a soggy meadow
The clouds are billowing up from the valley below …
… which means that we are soon climbing down into mist
Soon, the world around us turns milky
But we eventually break out from the mist and can look up at the heights we came down from
The path wends its way through dwarf pines
We go on until we reach the cable car you can see in the distance.
So ended this year’s hike to the Dolomites. I’m sure we will be back next year – Covid-19 permitting.